March 24, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Jordan Smith fanned a career-high 11 and Dykota Spiess homered three times including a walk-off blast over the fence in right field in the 11th inning of the night cap as Western Carolina claimed both ends of its Saturday double-header over UNC Greensboro at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
The Catamounts pounded out a season-high 19 hits en route to winning game one, 16-2, before Spiess belted lead-off, walk-off homer to cap a come-from-behind victory in game two. The Morganton, N.C., sophomore tied the game with an RBI ground-out in the seventh inning before adding the finishing touches in the extra frame.
Between the two games, WCU amassed 34 base hits and 22 runs, batting .391 collectively as a team. The wins for WCU halted a five-game drought against UNCG, while also stretched the home winning streak to 11-straight in 2012 and 14-consecutive dating back to last year.
Smith (2-3) scattered seven hits through eight innings while holding UNCG to a single run in earning the victory in game one. The Liberty, N.C., native retired nine-consecutive Spartan hitters at one point Saturday afternoon, working around one bases loaded jam in the visitor's portion of the sixth inning. Senior Andrew Blackwell tossed a third of an inning in the ninth allowing one run while freshman William Frazier closed out the final two-thirds of an inning with a pair of strikeouts.
Offensively for the Catamounts, Spiess finished 4-for-6 - all coming as a substitution in both games of the double-header. He finished with three home runs including a three-run, two-run and a solo shot to account for seven RBI and scored five times. Freshman Bradley Strong and junior Tyler White finished with five hits apiece in the two wins as Strong went 5-for-9 with a double and White was 5-for-10 with a two-bagger.
WCU opened the scoring in the first game with three runs in the home half of the second inning, scoring all the runs with two out. Strong delivered a bases-loaded, two-run single to right field to put the Catamounts on the scoreboard with Aaron Attaway plating a third run on a single up the middle.
Both teams scored a solo run in the fourth inning with the Catamounts getting a double by Strong and an RBI single by White to pull ahead by three, 4-1. Strong drove in his third run of the day on a RBI single to the right side of the infield, reaching the pitcher but with no play at any base.
Western Carolina broke the game open with a six-run sixth inning that featured a RBI single by Cody Jones, the three-run homer by Spiess and runs crossing the plate on a double-play and wild pitch. The Catamounts led 11-1 through six innings, adding two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth. UNCG managed a second run in the ninth to provide the final tally, 16-2.
In the night cap, the Catamounts came back from a three-run deficit to take the series. UNCG pushed across four runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 5-2 through six complete.
WCU started its rally in the home half of the seventh inning after back-to-back hits by White and Ross Heffley followed by freshman Jacob Hoyle walking to load the bases with nobody out. Martin then drove a single down the right field line, careening the drive off the first base bag to score two, moving Hoyle to third while pulling to within a run, 5-4. Spiess then grounded out to the right side as a pinch hitter, driving home the game-tying run.
Neither team was able to get a run over the final two frames despite WCU stranding two runners in the home half of the ninth inning. In the 10th, the Spartans drew consecutive walks to put two aboard with a sacrifice bunt moving both into scoring position at second and third with one out. An intentional walk loaded the bases to put a force at every base, which paid dividends immediately as reliever Preston Hatcher got Kris Richards to roll one up the first base line where White charged, bare-handed the ball and threw home for the force play and two outs. Hatcher then struck out Zach Leach to end the threat.
In the bottom of the 11th, Spiess drove a 1-0 pitch over the fence in right to end the game.
Hatcher (4-0) tossed the final two innings of regulation and both extra frames for the Catamounts to pick up the victory. The Atlanta, Ga., native only allowed two hits in four innings of relief work, pitching around three walks with five strikeouts.
Morgan McKinney earned the start, factoring in a no-decision after allowing four runs - only three of which were earned - on seven hits through five and a third innings pitched. He struck out six batters against two walks. Darron Dotson, Hunter Brister and Tyler Powell combined to toss an inning and two thirds, working the game to the seventh inning for Hatcher.
The finale of the three-game series is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Sunday afternoon. The game is scheduled to be broadcast on Catamount All-Access (subscription required) with live streaming audio and video, as well as GameTracker, available online at www.CatamountSports.com.